Women: Dealing With the Past

IMG_2094It was a tremendous honor to be invited by the impressive and inspirational Community Foundation for Northern Ireland to speak at a learning workshop in Belfast.

My talk, intentionally provocative, was supposed to give an outside perspective on dialogue to women on both sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland–women who have been meeting over time to work on reconciliation.

Women: Dealing with the Past (Belfast)
Women: Dealing with the Past (Belfast)

I hope I communicated that while there is certainly a time for parties in conflict to talk, there is also a time when we should refuse to talk.

For Palestinians who are suffering from fake “negotiations” that are clearly intended only to prolong the status quo, there is reason to refuse to talk. As long as Israel has no intention of enabling a just, sustainable solution, then boycott tactics make much more sense.

One of Belfast’s many “peace walls”

I also want to thank the amazing folks at Community Foundation for Northern Ireland for taking me on a truly life-changing political tour of Belfast. Among other things, I learned that Belfast is full of walls — reminiscent of Israel’s Annexation Wall — and they are called “peace walls!”

It might sound crazy, but I look forward to the day when everyone who suffered in this long, stupid Israel-Palestine conflict can talk about “the past” and have a nice lunch together while talking about reconciliation. But as I said to the women in Belfast, now we’re busy enough dealing with the present.


  1. Vicki Tamoush says

    Nora, so good to have you back on your blog! I’ve missed your writing. I love this report from Belfast and, like you, I was surprised to hear that those walls are called “peace walls.” Tell us more about that. Is it like that saying, “Good fences make good neighbors”?

    I have to confess to a certain degree of jealousy when I read about gatherings like the one in Ireland. I have a hard time visualizing myself taking part in such a gathering because the unvarnished truth is that I sit with Jewish and Israeli women all the time and there isn’t a moment of tension.

    Ahhh, but there’s the catch: the conflicts in the Middle East are not about religion and they’re not even about politics. God help us, I’d walk on my eyelashes with joy if we could boil down our problems to politics! The conflicts in the Middle East are about land and power. That’s why Jewish and Israeli women are not my enemies: Zionists are.

    Nora, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience not only through this blog but through your worldwide speaking engagements. Indeed there will be a day when we’ll look back on this time in history from a much better place, and you are one of the stepping stones laid firmly on that path.

    • Nora Lester Murad says

      I miss your writing too, my long-lost guest poster!

      I do think that’s what they mean by “peace walls” but I may have only understood the most superficial of levels. After all, Northern Ireland is certainly as complex and unique as Palestine/Israel, so I can’t expect to understand it deeply from a two-day visit.

      I agree the conflict here is not one between religions, but I don’t understand why you say that conflicts about land and power aren’t political. Maybe I’m using an unusual definition of “political”?

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